Friday, April 12, 2013

Say 'Yes' To Pulled Pork, Kimchi & Cheese Frites* (that's Freedom Fries to us 'Mericans) @ John Salt, Islington

There are "date nights", and then there are those spontaneous date nights that happen when John texts me out of the blue at work to ask, "Hey! Why don't we go out to dinner tonight? Just the two of us?" Yes, John, just the two of us - without our three imaginary, non-existent children. That would be so fun.

I love it when John suggests going out mid-week; it's exciting to try new places, order alcohol on a school night, and generally relax together with some excellent food. The problem is, when these spontaneous texts arrive, they always happen to occur on the one day I've decided to dress down (and I hardly ever do that) and he always happens to suggest a restaurant where palate refreshers and white tablecloths are involved. Get the picture?

Thankfully, he suggested going to one of our local favorites (that requires no dressing up, unless you want to make an effort to look like an anorexic hipster - challenging for me), Duke's Brew & Que (for those of you who are not acquainted, GET ACQUAINTED) for ribs, sliders, and burgers. Obviously, I love the place, but not when I'm trying to watch what I eat (I'm gonna avoid using the four-letter D-word here). So I suggested a possibly lighter option, John Salt, which has recently opened on Upper Street and might look familiar to you Islingtonites, because it used to be Keston Lodge (don't worry if you don't remember it, it wasn't really worth remembering).

Of course, being on a d*et and all, what did I order? Just a whole baby chicken and a side of pulled pork, kimchi, and cheese fries. And a green salad, for the healthy part.

So what if I had to not-so-surreptitiously unbutton the top button of my Topshop skinny jeans under the table? So what if the two pounds I managed to lose this week totally popped back on the scale when I got home? Can I just tell you, though? Those fries were AMAZING. Sorry, frites. AMAZING. I know that Kimchi fries have been around for a while now in the States, but the UK is a bit slow on the uptake for such things so John Salt deserves a serious pat on the back for bringing them to London. My green chilli poussin was tender and glazed in a deliciously tangy barbecue sauce. But the fries, oh, the fries. They were my downfall.

And then the dessert. THE DESSERT. Oreo, peanut butter (crunchy), and chocolate tart. Innocent sounding enough (to an American, at least), right? It was divine. I almost wept at how perfect it tasted (this could also be down to the fact that I've been trying to deprive myself of sugar all week). If there was a shrine to this dessert, I'd worship its incredible-ness. Even John, who usually feels so-so about the dessert, pulled the plate a little closer to his side of the table.

And the bill? It didn't hurt that much. Food, drinks, and service came to a respectable £63. I'd say that the 12.5% was deserved. Our server was pleasant, non-obtrusive, more than happy to answer my 100 questions about the menu (it doesn't give away much, to say the least, in terms of descriptions), and totally nice.

So will I be back? Absolutely. D*et or no d*et.

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